16th Annual Conference of The International Society for the Study of Drug Policy

ISSDP 2023 Conference banner, courtesy of ISSDP

The sixteenth annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) was held in Leuven, Belgium, from 30 May – 01 June 2023, at the KU Leuven University.

The event was hosted by RAND Europe, a non-profit and nonpartisan policy research organisation based in Brussels and Cambridge, in collaboration with the Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven.

More information about the conference can be found at the ISSDP website.

About the Programme

Conference Programme

Download the conference programme (PDF) to see the schedule of events.

Book of Abstracts

Download the book of abstracts (PDF) to learn more about each presentation.

Scientific Program Committee

  • Laura Atuesta, PhD CIDE Mexico, Mexico
  • David Décary-Hétu, PhD University of Montreal, Canada
  • David Hammond, PhD University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Brendan Hughes, LLM EMCDDA, Portugal
  • Marie Jauffret-Roustide, PhD French Institute of Health and Medical Research, France
  • Gideon Lasco, MD, PhD University of the Philippines Diliman, The Philippines
  • Simon Lenton, PhD Curtin University, Australia
  • Rosario Queirolo, PhD Catholic University of Uruguay, Uruguay
  • Alex Stevens, PhD Kent University, UK
  • Claudia Stoicescu, PhD Monash University Indonesia, Indonesia
  • Rosanna Smart, PhD RAND Corporation, USA
  • Margriet van Laar, PhD Trimbos Institute, The Netherlands
  • Mafalda Pardal, PhD Research Leader, RAND Europe
    European lead for the RAND Drug Policy Research Center
  • Stijn Hoorens Office Director, RAND Europe Brussels
    Senior Research Leader
  • Emma Disley, PhD Research Group Director, Home Affairs and Social Policy, RAND Europe
  • Beau Kilmer, PhD McCauley Chair in Drug Policy Innovation
    Codirector, RAND Drug Policy Research Center
    Senior Policy Researcher
  • Letizia Paoli, PhD Professor of Criminology, KU Leuven

Keynote Speakers

During the 2023 ISSDP participants had the opportunity to hear from several distinguished keynote speakers.

Catherine De Bolle

Executive Director of Europol

Catherine De Bolle

Catherine de Bolle is the Executive Director of Europol. Before taking up her post as Europol’s Executive Director in May 2018, Catherine De Bolle served as General Commissioner of the Belgian Federal Police from 2012. Prior to her appointment as Belgian Police Commissioner, Ms De Bolle was Chief of Police in Ninove. In January 2015, she has received the title of Public Manager of the year. From November 2015 until November 2018, she was a member of the Executive Committee of Interpol. Ms De Bolle studied law at Ghent University and then went on to graduate from the Royal Gendarmerie Academy in Belgium.
Lieselot Bisschop

Professor of criminology

Lieselot Bisschop

Professor Dr. Lieselot Bisschop is a professor of criminology at Erasmus School of Law. Her and her colleagues have been doing research in and around the port of Rotterdam and about the Dutch approach to organized drug crime since 2018. Her core areas of interest and expertise are environmental harm, corporate crime, organized crime and environmental governance. Some of her past and ongoing studies are focused on e-waste trafficking and planned obsolescence of electronics, wildlife, gold and timber trafficking, shipbreaking and coastal land loss.
Generic silhouette

Strategic analyst

Barbara Celis

Barbara Celis is a strategic analyst from Belgium. Educated at KU Leuven with a B.A. in Criminological Studies and an M.A. in Chinese Studies, Ms. Celis began her career in strategic analysis with the Belgian Federal Police in 2002 before moving to Europol after a number of years. In 2015, she took a senior analyst position at the European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA). In 2020, she returned to Europol where she is now head of the strategic analysis team.
Bob Keizer

Senior advisor

Bob Keizer

Bob Keizer (1949, The Netherlands) graduated in Medical Law. He has a long-term and comprehensive expertise in the drug policy field. From 1992 till 2001 he was responsible for coordinating Dutch national drug policy, in his capacity as Head of the Drug Policy Division of the Ministry of Health, the coordinating Ministry. From 1992-2004 he was the Dutch representative in the Pompidou Group, the oldest and biggest European Think Tank on Drugs (37 member countries), and between 2004-2007 he was the Executive Chairman of this group. From 1994-2000 he was the Dutch representative in the Management Board of the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA, the EU drugs observatory). From 2005-2020 he worked as Senior Advisor at the Trimbos Institute, the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction. In this capacity he has been involved in many drug-policy related projects in Europe, North Africa, The Russian Federation, and Turkey (policy analysis and evaluation; consultancy and training activities). From 2013-2020 he has participated in the Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP, funded by the EU). Aim of this programme was assisting Kazakhstan, Kyrchystan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) in development of national drug policies.
Rien van der Steenoven

Program director

Rien van der Steenoven

Mr. Rien van der Steenoven (Rotterdam 1958) is the Program Director of the Municipality of Rotterdam. His background as a city marine (directly working for the portfolio of the Mayor). First 9 years in the dynamics of City Centre (in which he transformed the city’s calling cards) and later 5 years in a large industrial area running a program to tackle subversive crime and redeveloping the area. Besides the “regular” portfolios, Rien has had the honour to (crisis) manage a number of special projects such as founding an asylum seekers centre. In Covid, building temporary hospital and test and vaccination facilities. And latest finding, in the continuing demand, shelter for asylum seekers. Directly followed by finding shelter for refugees from Ukraine. These experiences together with a previous 30-year career within the police have led him to this prestigious role.
Tom Van Deun


Tom Van Deun

Tom Van Deun started working at the prosecutor’s office in 2009. First as a jurist, then as a magistrate in training and in 2014 in an official capacity as prosecutor. After working on various types of cases ranging from theft to violent sexual crimes he switched to drug related crimes in 2014. This was around the start of the “War on drugs” in the city of Antwerp. At first, he worked with the local police on cases of possession, dealing and plantations. He was also involved in developing a strategy to cope with dealers on festivals, notably Tomorrowland. In 2020 he became the lead prosecutor on cases of international drug trafficking. Since then, he’s been working with the federal police, the federal maritime police and customs to combat international drug trafficking. In this capacity he also became one of the first prosecutors to work on case files that started from or were fed with information coming from the SKY ECC investigation.

About RAND Europe

RAND Europe is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan policy research organization that aims to improve evidence-based policy and decision making through high-quality research and analysis. With offices in Cambridge and Brussels, the organization provides research services to governments, foundations, charities, universities and companies across the globe, with a particular geographical focus towards the institutions of the European Union, European states, and the United Kingdom. RAND Europe conducts research across a wide array of policy contexts and areas, including policing, criminal justice, education, drug policy, employment, population and migration, international development, health and wellbeing, defense and security, and scientific and technological innovation. The organization forms the European arm of the RAND Corporation, sharing its mission and values.

About KU Leuven

KU Leuven is a renowned university based in central Leuven, Belgium, with 12 satellite campuses across the country. Ranked as one of the top 100 universities in the world, the university has 60,000 students enrolled across 15 faculties and departments, and provides research and teaching in English and Dutch across 3 major thematic groups: Humanities and Social Sciences; Science, Engineering and Technology; and Biomedical Sciences. The university is known for its international research output, ranked consistently as one of the most innovative universities in the world. As Belgium’s oldest university, KU Leuven is further recognized for its unique Renaissance-style architectural beauty, with its oldest buildings — such as the University Hall — dating back over six centuries to 1317.

About Leuven

The central Belgian city of Leuven is known for its rich cultural heritage and gothic architecture, with its origins dating to the 9th century. Modest in size, the city is highly pedestrianized and locations in the city center — including two UNESCO world heritage sites — are walkable. With Leuven lying just 16 miles to the east of Brussels, the city is easily accessible by a 15-minute train ride from Brussels National Airport, which itself holds many direct international connections from other major cities across Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa. As a university city with a substantial student and researcher population, the city’s economy focuses on research, particularly in the areas of health, technology, and scientific innovation. Through its university city status and industrial foundations in brewing, Leuven additionally is known for having a vibrant evening atmosphere. The city is furthermore regarded as highly sustainable, winning the European Green Leaf award in 2018 and making landmark achievements and pledges towards environmentally sustainable growth and living.

About the Town Hall and Conference Reception

The reception for the 16th annual conference of the ISSDP was hosted in Leuven's landmark Town Hall, built over 30 years in the mid-15th century and instantly recognizable for its Late Gothic architectural style. The Town Hall sits in the Grote Markt — Leuven's main square — and is directly opposite Saint Peter's Church. The Town Hall housed administrative bodies of Leuven until 2009, and is now primarily performing a ceremonial role in the city.

Leuven Town Hall in shadow
View of the Leuven Town Hall from the street

Conference Dinner Information

This year's conference dinner was held at De Hoorn in Leuven on 31 May 2023.

De Hoorn is located on Sluisstraat 79, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. This Leuven staple has a rich history dating back to the 18th century as the original brewer of Leuven's Stella Artois beer. Today the original copper brewing kettles can be found in what is now a comfortable and trendy gathering space for meetings and large events.

A keynote lecture was delivered during the dinner, concluding the second day of the 2023 ISSDP.

Exterior of De Hoorn restaurant, photo courtesy of De Hoorn/RAND Europe

Exterior of De Hoorn restaurant

Interior of De Hoorn restaurant, photo courtesy of De Hoorn/RAND Europe

Interior of De Hoorn restaurant